Antipater’s Dynasty – Alexander the Great’s Regent and his Successors, John D Grainger

Antipater’s Dynasty – Alexander the Great’s Regent and his Successors, John D Grainger

This is a good choice of topics. Ptolemy’s dynasty has always been well documented, and the same author has already produced a supurb study of the Seleucid dynasty. Antipater’s dynasty didn’t survive for long in Macedonia, so it is their successors, the Antigonids, who get more attention in studies of Greece. Antipater’s dynasty only really lasted for two generations – Antipater himself, who served as Alexander’s deputy in Macedonia during the great campaigns and seems to have remained loyal to the concept of unified Empire for some time after Alexander’s death, and his son Cassander, who clearly felt rather differently, had Alexander’s last surviving son killed and seized the throne of Macedonia in his own right. After Cassander’s death his own children only managed to hold onto the throne for three years, before the dynasty ended in a fairly typical Hellenistic mess of betrayal and murder

Despite the relatively short duriation of the dynasty, both of its key members were very important figures in the history of Alexander and his empire. Antipater won a series of crucial wars in Greece and Macedonia, making sure that Alexander was free to continue with his conquests without having to worry too much about the home front (despite his successes Antipater was on the verge of being dismissed when Alexander died, and all of his later orders were cancelled). After Alexander’s death he seems to have retained a belief in the integrity of the Empire under the theortical rule of Alexander’s heirs, long after most of the other Successors were looking to carve out their own kingdoms. Although the general image is that Alexander’s empire collapsed almost immediately after his death, this book makes it clear that the fiction at least of a single empire lasted for quite a lot longer, and there was genuinely a period where the various successors saw themselves as operating within a single political entity, with major disputes dealt with at a series of councils.

Cassander was a very different figure – during his reign he was responsible for the deaths of Alexander’s remaining son Alexander IV, his mother Roxanne and Alexander’s mother Olympias, after which he claimed the throne for himself. This is the period that saw any last idea of an overriding Macedonian empire disappear, along with what was left of the royal family,

Alexander’s successors don’t emerge with much credit here – most of them are portrayed as power hungry, dishonest and untrustworthy, owing their positions to their own military abilities, but more importantly to Philip’s creation of the impressive Macedonian army and to Alexander’s victories, which cleared away most external threats and allowed them to play out their unending games of short lived alliances and betrayal without being distracted by any external foes or significant revolts within the conquered territories. Antipater and Cassander are the main exceptions here, as both had to defend Macedonia against attacks from the west and north, and always faced the threat of yet another uprising of various Greek powers. The remaining Greek powers also fail to impress in this period, missing a series of chances to expel the Macedonians, largely because they could never overcome their own longstanding rivalries to unite against a common foe.

I found this to be a useful addition to my library of worlds on Alexander and his successors, with its focus on the problems of Macedonia in a period when the main focus of attention was almost always further to the east, and a time that saw Macedonia almost immediately lose control of the massive empire conquered in its name.

Part I: Antipater
1 – Rise to Power
2 – Alexander’s Lieutenant
3 – Macedonian Governor I – Thrace and Agis
4 – Macedonian Governor II – Surviving Alexander
5 – The Lamian War
6 – Triparadeisos
7 – The Problems of Empire

Part II: Kassander
8 – Kassander to Power
9 – Kassander, Lord of Macedon
10 – King Kassander
11 – A Ruling Dynasty’s End

Part III: The Later Family
12 – Three Grandsons
13 – Three Daughters
14 – The Last of the Dynasty

Author: John D Grainger
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2019


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